|French literary history|
Michel-Jean Sedaine (2 June 1719 – 17 May 1797) was a French dramatist and librettist, especially noted for his librettos for opéras comiques , in which he took an important and influential role in the advancement of the genre from the period of Charles-Simon Favart to the beginning of the Revolution.
Sedaine was born in Paris. His father, an architect, died when Sedaine was quite young and left no fortune to inherit, the young Sedaine therefore began life as a mason's labourer. He was at last taken as pupil by an architect whose kindness he eventually repaid, by the help he was able to give to his benefactor's grandson, the painter David. Meanwhile, he had done his best to repair his deficiencies of education, and in 1750 he published a Recueil de pièces fugitives, which included fables, songs and pastorals.
Sedaine's especial talent was, however, for light opera. He wrote Le diable à quatre, set mainly to vaudevilles with additional music by Philidor, Laruette and Baurans. First performed at the Foire Saint-Laurent on 19 August 1756, it was produced numerous times with music by different composers and became one of the most performed comic operas in the latter half of the 18th century.
Other such works followed, including Blaise le savetier (1759) with music of Philidor; On ne s'avise jamais de tout (1761) Aline, reine de Golconde and others with Pierre-Alexandre Monsigny; Aucassin et Nicolette (1780), Richard Coeur-de-lion (1784), and Amphitryon (1788) with André Grétry.
Among his more important works in the genre were two set by Monsigny: Le roi et le fermier (1762), notable for its portrayal of royal recognition of common justice and its 3-act length, and Le déserteur (1769), which included a through-composed finale with chorus.
Sedaine's work in opéra comique attracted the attention of Diderot, and two plays of his were accepted and performed at the Théâtre Français. The first and longest, the Philosophe sans le savoir, was acted in 1765; the second, a lively one-act piece, La gageure imprévue in 1768. These two at once took their place as stock pieces and are still ranked among the best French plays, each of its class. Except these two pieces little or nothing of his has kept the stage.
He wrote two historical dramas, Raymond V, comte de Toulouse ou L'épreuve inutile, and Maillard, ou Paris sauvé.
Sedaine became a member of the Academy (1786),and secretary for architecture of the fine arts division. He died in Paris.
Sedaine may be regarded as the literary ancestor of Scribe and Dumas. He had the practical knowledge of the theatre, which enabled him to carry out the ideas of Diderot and give him claims to be regarded as the real founder of the domestic drama in France.
His Œuvres (1826) contain a notice of his life by Ducis.
The Opéra-Comique is a Paris opera company, which was founded around 1714 by some of the popular theatres of the Parisian fairs. In 1762 the company was merged with, and for a time took the name of its chief rival the Comédie-Italienne at the Hôtel de Bourgogne, and was also called the Théâtre-Italien up to about 1793, when it again became most commonly known as the Opéra-Comique. Today the company's official name is Théâtre national de l'Opéra-Comique, and its theatre, with a capacity of around 1,248 seats, sometimes referred to as the Salle Favart, is located in Place Boïeldieu, in the 2nd arrondissement of Paris, not far from the Palais Garnier, one of the theatres of the Paris Opéra. The musicians and others associated with the Opéra-Comique have made important contributions to operatic history and tradition in France, and to French opera. Its current mission is to reconnect with its history, and discover its unique repertoire, to ensure production and dissemination of operas for the wider public. Mainstays of the repertory at the Opéra-Comique during its history have included the following works which have each been performed more than 1,000 times by the company: Cavalleria Rusticana, Le chalet, La dame blanche, Le domino noir, La fille du régiment, Lakmé, Manon, Mignon, Les noces de Jeannette, Le pré aux clercs, Tosca, La bohème, Werther and Carmen, the last having been performed more than 2,500 times.
Opéra comique is a genre of French opera that contains spoken dialogue and arias. It emerged from the popular opéras comiques en vaudevilles of the Fair Theatres of St Germain and St Laurent, which combined existing popular tunes with spoken sections. Associated with the Paris theatre of the same name, opéra comique is not necessarily comical or shallow in nature; Carmen, perhaps the most famous opéra comique, is a tragedy.
Pierre-Alexandre Monsigny was a French composer and a member of the French Académie des Beaux-Arts (1813).
Rescue opera was a genre of opera in the late 18th and early 19th centuries in France and Germany. Generally, rescue operas deal with the rescue of a main character from danger and end with a happy dramatic resolution in which lofty humanistic ideals triumph over base motives. Operas with this kind of subject matter became popular in France around the time of the French Revolution; a number of such operas dealt with the rescue of a political prisoner. Stylistically and thematically, rescue opera was an outgrowth of the French bourgeois opéra comique; musically, it began a new tradition that would influence German Romantic opera and French grand opera. The most famous rescue opera is Ludwig van Beethoven's Fidelio.
Le diable à quatre is an opéra comique in three acts by Christoph Willibald Gluck. The French-language libretto is by Michel-Jean Sedaine and Pierre Baurans, after a translation by Claude-Pierre Patu of the 1731 ballad opera by Charles Coffey entitled The Devil to Pay, or The Wives Metamorphos’d. It was first performed at Laxenburg on May 28, 1759. The work was a popular success. Joseph Haydn used a melody from it, "Je n’aimais pas le tabac beaucoup " in the first movement of his symphony Le soir.
Le déserteur is an opéra comique by the French composer Pierre-Alexandre Monsigny with a libretto by Michel-Jean Sedaine. It was first performed on 6 March 1769 by the Comédie-Italienne at their public theatre, the Hôtel de Bourgogne in Paris.
Tom Jones is a comédie mêlée d'ariettes, a kind of opéra comique, by the French composer François-André Danican Philidor which first appeared at the Comédie-Italienne, Paris, on 27 February 1765. Its French libretto, by Antoine-Alexandre-Henri Poisenet and Bertin Davesne, is loosely based on the novel by Henry Fielding.
Lucile is an opéra comique, described as a comédie mêlée d'ariettes, in one act by the composer André Grétry, It was first performed at the Comédie-Italienne, Paris on 5 January 1769. The French text is by Jean-François Marmontel, and the characters in the opera, though not the actual story, were derived from "L'école des pères", one of Marmontel's Contes moraux. The melody from "Où peut-on être mieux qu'au sein de sa famille?" was later reused in Vieuxtemps' Violin Concerto No. 5, Op.37.
Guillaume Tell is an opéra comique, described as a drame mise en musique, in three acts by André Grétry, The French text was by Michel-Jean Sedaine based on a play of the same name by Antoine-Marin Lemierre.
The French term comédie mêlée d'ariettes was frequently used during the late ancien régime for certain types of opéra comique.
Jean Elleviou was a French operatic tenor, one of the most celebrated French singers of his time.
Prosper-Didier Deshayes was an opera composer and dancer who lived and worked in France. In 1764 he was a balletmaster at the Comédie-Française. By 1774 he had become an assistant (adjoint) at the Paris Opéra. His first opera Le Faux serment ou La Matrone de Gonesse, a comédie mêlée d'ariettes in two acts, was first performed on 31 December 1785 at the Théâtre des Beaujolais in Paris and became a popular success. He went on to have another 18 works performed at various venues in Paris, but only two, La faut serment and Zélie, ou Le mari à deux femmes, a 3-act drame first performed at the Salle Louvois on 29 October 1791, were ever published as musical scores. He also participated in the collaborative Revolutionary opera Le congrès des rois, a 3-act comédie mêlée d'ariettes, which combined music written by Deshayes and 11 other composers and was first performed by the Opéra-Comique at the Salle Favart on 26 February 1794. He died in Paris.
Jean-Pierre Solié was a French cellist and operatic singer. He began as a tenor, but switched and became well known as a baritone. He sang most often at the Paris Opéra-Comique. He also became a prolific composer, writing primarily one-act comic operas.
Blaise le savetier is a 1759 one-act opéra comique, by the French composer François-André Danican Philidor. The libretto was by Michel-Jean Sedaine, after a story by Jean de La Fontaine entitled Conte d'une chose arrivée à Château-Thierry.
Le maréchal ferrant is a 1761 French two-act opéra comique with spoken dialogue and music composed by François-André Danican Philidor as well as several vaudevilles, which were typically included in opéras comiques of the time. The libretto is by Antoine-François Quétant, after one of the stories in Boccaccio's Decameron, with verses for the ariettes by Louis Anseaume and a plan devised by Serrière.
The Opéra-National was a Parisian opera company that the French composer Adolphe Adam founded in 1847 to provide an alternative to the two primary French opera companies in Paris, the Opéra and the Opéra-Comique. The goals of the new company were to "foster new compositional talent," revive opéras comiques from an earlier period, and produce opera at a lower ticket price for a wider public.
Bernardo Porta was an Italian composer who was active in France.
Charles-Guillaume Alexandre was a French classical violinist and composer.
Aline, reine de Golconde is an opera (ballet-héroïque) in three acts by Pierre-Alexandre Monsigny to a libretto by Michel-Jean Sedaine based on a story by Stanislas-Jean de Boufflers. It was first performed in the Salle des Machines in Paris on 15 April 1766.
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